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So, are there any admirers or detractors here? After reading about this BBC series (with Idris Elba in the lead) in Sunday's NYT, I've added it to my Netflix queue.

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So, are there any admirers or detractors here? After reading about this BBC series (with Idris Elba in the lead) in Sunday's NYT, I've added it to my Netflix queue.

I watched series one (season one to us Yankees). It was pretty good, not great. Elba is a mesmerizing actor and playing a role here unlike any of the ones I'd previously seen him in. But the story was kind of weak for me. There were too many familiar cop show cliches. And it seemed like right before something bad was about to happen, Luther would always sort of sense it. Based on nothing. That kind of felt lazy to me.

I haven't watched series two yet (it's airing on BBC America right now), but I'd be interested to see how it ranks compared to series one.

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So, are there any admirers or detractors here? After reading about this BBC series (with Idris Elba in the lead) in Sunday's NYT, I've added it to my Netflix queue.

I'm a fan. It's a very silly show, but Elba and Ruth Wilson sell it, and there's some genuinely chilling moments.

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So, are there any admirers or detractors here? After reading about this BBC series (with Idris Elba in the lead) in Sunday's NYT, I've added it to my Netflix queue.

I'm a fan. It's a very silly show, but Elba and Ruth Wilson sell it, and there's some genuinely chilling moments.

Yeah, I forgot to mention Ruth Wilson. She's really good, too.

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Alyssa Rosenberg asks if Luther is the scariest show on television:

Luther, alone among these shows, has no supernatural elements. But in making its monsters entirely human, it may be the scariest of them all because it's so unsettlingly plausible. We meet the show's main character, DCI John Luther, as he lets a criminal fall to his death. In a subsequent episode in the first season, the distraught wife of a serial killer clubs her husband to death with a hammer. To be fair, it took a mummified body and a terrified hooker in the bathroom to push her into sickeningly brutal retribution, but it most certainly didn't require monsters.

Meanwhile, over at Think Progress, she asks producer Phillippa Giles about the role of race in casting:

Whether it’s Luther’s South Asian wife, his white female boss in the first series, his friendship with the murderous but charming Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), and in this series, the fatherly interest he takes in a the daughter of a friend who’s been working in pornography and as a prostitute (watch out for an adorable scene between them tonight), the show is full of interracial relationships that range from the emotionally and sexually intimate, to the professionally bracing. In an environment where it’s striking when advertising campaigns start subtly including interracial couples and when our entertainment can seem rigidly divided between black and white audiences and black and white casts, Luther‘s profoundly refreshing.
Edited by NBooth

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I'm a fan. It's a very silly show, but Elba and Ruth Wilson sell it, and there's some genuinely chilling moments.

It is a bit silly in parts, but I find it less silly than any Law and Order clone trying to not look silly despite goofy plot mechanics and character development ploys. And true to BBC fashion, the action sells the atmosphere. I am watching the second season, which begins with the grand guignol dialed up. I hope it doesn't push too hard on this.

FWIW, the best comparison I can make to this show as a crime drama is Tom Selleck's first few Jesse Stone TV films. Those first two installments were so spot on as Parker adaptations (even beautiful in places). In a similar fashion, Luther embodies a lot of great crime fiction tropes. Critics have focused a lot on the horror elements, but it is also quite literate. One could easily turn to Poe's crime fiction, or even some Holmes, to find analogies to some of the imagery.

Also, the Massive Attack + Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) intro gets me every time.

Edited by M. Leary

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I'm a fan. It's a very silly show, but Elba and Ruth Wilson sell it, and there's some genuinely chilling moments.

It is a bit silly in parts, but I find it less silly than any Law and Order clone trying to not look silly despite goofy plot mechanics and character development ploys. And true to BBC fashion, the action sells the atmosphere. I am watching the second season, which begins with the grand guignol dialed up. I hope it doesn't push too hard on this.

Of course, silly isn't really a bad thing from where I'm standing (no one who rates Ellery Queen as highly as I do could rightfully protest against silliness). What Luther does very well is sell the silliness by playing it just to the right of "straight." Like you say, it doesn't try not to look silly--it knows what it's doing and it does it, which in my mind puts it a cut above something like Criminal Minds.

FWIW, the best comparison I can make to this show as a crime drama is Tom Selleck's first few Jesse Stone TV films. Those first two installments were so spot on as Parker adaptations (even beautiful in places).

I still need to see those.

In a similar fashion, Luther embodies a lot of great crime fiction tropes. Critics have focused a lot on the horror elements, but it is also quite literate. One could easily turn to Poe's crime fiction, or even some Holmes, to find analogies to some of the imagery.

Definitely. The whole killer cab driver was so Doyle--well, kind of--that when Sherlock did the same thing, a couple of viewers drew an immediate parallel between the two shows. In fact, now that you mention it, I kind of want to dig back into my DVD set and see what else emerges.

Also, the Massive Attack + Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) intro gets me every time.

Yes.

Edited by NBooth

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For the record, I did write "shoe" instead of "show."

I didn't even notice. I've amended my quote.

For my part, I messed up the highlighting on the spoiler section. Yikes.

Edited by NBooth

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I can't access the article (grumblegrumblepaywallgrumble) but apparently Neil Cross--the brain behind Luther--made Variety's list of ten screenwriters to watch.

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I'm around halfway through the first series (just watched the episode where the husband is a serial killer and his wife kills him at the end with a hammer; the actress who played the wife, Nicola Walker, also plays one of my favorite characters on MI-5.

I get the Sherlock/House vibe of miraculously figuring out things just in time that a few others have mentioned. The best comparison for me, at this point, is that Luther is to MI-5 (Neil Cross wrote several episodes of that show) as Torchwood is to Dr. Who (or Millennium was to The X-Files). They all cover similar kinds of territory, but with the darkness icky quotient ratcheted up a few notches.

[Edit] Finished series 1. The other comments on here are right: Elba and Wilson are easily the best thing about the show, and the writing easily isn't. It's not bad, but the climactic storyline didn't grab me the way I thought it should. One reason is that there was really only one way it could have ended, and it's easy to see what that is fairly early on. Another is loose ends ( how DID Alice kill her parents? ), and motivation ( Reed's betrayal came out of nowhere, unless I missed something).

Edited by Tyler

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After taking a long time to get through the first few episodes, we watched the cab driver episode on Monday and then blazed through the rest of season one and some of season two. The writing is wobbly, really, but everything else works so well that I just don't care. Luther, in some ways, treads in some of the same thematic territory covered by Angel, albeit from a quite different angle.

I also cannot get the Massive Attack theme out of my head.

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I loved the cab driver episode. Nicola Walker is so fierce, and her face is glorious. Also, good job Luther for figuring out the taxi driver thing quicker than Sherlock, hahaha.

The Paul Rhys episode, the one with blood all over the walls, was so creepy I couldn't sleep for days.

I need Alice.

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Season three is pretty good, perhaps the best, at least as far as I recall, though two was pretty good as well, though Ruth Wilson in s1? Oh I can't decide. Season three worth a watch anyway.

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Neil Cross wants to make a Luther prequel movie.

 

 

Cross has told British media that he is aiming to get a movie version made next year, having written a script as a prequel detailing how Elba's character, John Luther, ends up the dark, conflicted and hardened detective in the TV show.

The show creator said his script follows the detective's career in the earlier days, when he is still married to Zoe, and the final scene in the film is the first of the initial TV series.

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Just finished Series 3. And a line in the last episode really stuck out to me and made me reconsider how I've watched the last two series--perhaps the whole thing. I can't remember it verbatim, unfortunately, but it's something like "Your conscience has killed more people than I ever have."

 

Now--granted, the line is coming from a totally amoral character--but it does suggest a very interesting formal inversion at the heart of Luther: in many of these cop/detective/investigation dramas the two leads fall into roughly these categories:

 

1. The asocial/sociopathic jerk of a detective (Sherlock, House, Goren, possibly Monk to some extent)

 

2. The partner who keeps the detective grounded (Watson, Wilson, Eames, Natalie/Sharona)

 

--and most of the character-dynamics play off the attempts of the sidekick to keep the detective from losing touch with reality or thoughtlessly hurting anyone during his single-minded quest to solve the puzzle. But with Luther the pattern is flipped: John Luther is the conscience of the show, and if he gets people hurt along the way it's not because he doesn't feel what normal people feel; it's because he feels too much. And so Alice Morgan holds him back. He can be ruthless when he's, um, Ruth [Wilson] less, but it's never as effective as when she's around. She's his id, she's his perverse joy, she's the anarchy he needs to embrace so that he can actually function in the crazy world of the show.

 

Which explains why, once she leaves in the middle of Series 2, so much life gets sucked out of things. The Alice-free stories are fine enough as gritty, dark, cop thrillers--but they don't have much sparkle. They're relentlessly grim because Luther himself is relentlessly grim. And it's only in the last episode of Series 3 that the sparkle returns, and that's because:

 

Alice comes back. And she manages to channel Luther's conscientiousness in such a way that he saves Mary Day because she prompts him to pick her [Alice] in the "impossible choice" scenario.  She helps him to be--I don't mean this in any way but the purely descriptive--sociopathic, or at least to channel his conscience in such a way as to be effective. And, on top of that, the series becomes

fun in a way that it really hasn't been since--well, since Alice left last series.

 

--Which means that I've re-oriented the past two series in my mind into a kind of eight-hour cop show version of "The Enemy Within." Except better. And with Ruth Wilson.

 

--And which also means that I'm not too interested in a prequel. Heck, I have the prequel novel on my shelf and I've not read it, and it's because the character of Luther doesn't really seem that interesting without Alice (and that's no knock against Idris Elba--he's good).

Edited by NBooth

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Neil Cross and Idris Elba are bringing Luther to America:

 

Cross is on board to pen the script and executive produce the Fox take, which hails from 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment and original producers BBC Worldwide Productions. Chernin's Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, BBC's Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner and Elba are also attached to executive produce.
 
Elba, who has been nominated for three outstanding lead actor in a miniseries Emmy Awards for his part, is not currently slated to have an on-screen role. 

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Empire: Game Of Thrones' Rose Leslie Joins Luther

 

A new two-part Luther special is underway, no doubt boasting all the growly detective work we’ve come to expect and love from everyone’s favourite bellowing London copper. What it won’t have, according to The Wrap’s scoop, is Ruth Wilson’s whipsmart sociopath to provide a menacing yin to the big man’s righteous yang. Instead, Game Of Thrones’ flinty Ygritte, Rose Leslie, has signed on for the show’s return, alongside The Inbetweeners Movie’s Laura Haddock.
 
This lack of Ruth Wilson seriously messes with my reading of the show. Alas.

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The special started airing last night. Philip Sandifer's reaction has me both excited and worried:

His followup tweet pushes me toward "worried" and away from "excited," though:

 

 

Edited by NBooth

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Meanwhile, Deadline offers another perspective:

In many ways, the timing of Luther Season 4, which plays in the UK today and on December 22, couldn’t be more perfect for Elba. Having snared both SAG Awards and Golden Globes nominations last week for both the cop series and Netflix’s Beasts Of No Nation, the actor is at full strength this awards season. Add those noms plus the release of the new Star Trek Beyond trailer yesterday with Elba as the pic’s villain, and its clear, he’s in full flight too.

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